Last summer, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science alumna Maria S. Altieri, M.S., M.D., became Section Chief of Gastrointestinal Surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital, University of Pennsylvania. She leads a team of surgeons who are dedicated to treating illnesses in gastrointestinal surgery. In her new role, Altieri said that her goals are “to improve on the already existing excellence of the minimally invasive and bariatric program.”
Altieri expressed that she has been interested in medicine since she was a child. “My mother was a surgeon back in Bulgaria, and I loved the idea of getting people healthier, so this was a natural career path for me,” she said.
In 2003, Altieri graduated from Florida Atlantic University with her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. However, she first began her educational journey at Florida Atlantic in 1999, as an inaugural student in the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College. She expressed her gratitude for her FAU professors’ support over the years. “They provided a great foundation for my own drive for higher education.”
An active member of several student organizations, Altieri helped to launch a medical student interest group for FAU students who were interested in attending medical school. She was also involved in the Student Government Association and had the opportunity to serve as a Senate Speaker for the John D. MacArthur campus. “Looking back, those were great experiences that helped me to grow as a student,” she said.
Additionally, the multi-talented student helped produce several plays for FAU’s Theater in the Raw. “It was a fantastic experience that allowed me to explore something else besides my science major,” Altieri said.
Following her graduation from Florida Atlantic, she obtained a master’s degree in biochemistry, and subsequently her medical degree at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C. Then, Altieri joined SUNY-Stony Brook in New York for her general surgery residency and The Washington University in St. Louis for her minimally invasive surgery fellowship.
Her research interests pertain to graduate medical education, as well as clinical outcomes and health disparities in the areas of minimally invasive and bariatric surgery. She has published over 100 manuscripts and book chapters on these topics.
Her advice to current FAU students: “Follow your dreams, no matter how hard it may seem at the time. I came as an exchange student in high school and decided to stay and continue my education. My English wasn’t the best, and there were times when having your family on another continent made it feel impossible. But if you really love something and feel that this is what you want to do, don’t let anyone deter you.”